Recruiting rankings are an art, not a science. Rankings in the recruiting industry can reflect vastly varying performances at camps, combines or games. They can reflect whom an evaluator has seen or even when they saw him. They can even reflect differences in the entire philosophy on how a ranking should be determined.
Matt Elam has a huge upper body but his calves and ankles could be mistaken for a linebacker.
At 247Sports we don’t ignore the existence of other recruiting sites and evaluators. If fact, through our 247Composite rankings, we embrace them. For the class of 2014, the recruiting industry unanimously agrees on the general ranking range of many of the top players in the country. But there are some outliers.
Below we take a look at 247Sports and three other major recruiting sites, identifying three prospects that each network currently values significantly higher than the rest of the industry.
Matt Elam, DT, Elizabethtown (Ky.) John Hardin
247Sports Rank: 10 | 247Composite Rank: 140
247Sports analysis: There is a reason that Elam, despite playing limited competition in Kentucky, has jetted up the recruiting boards of some of the biggest name programs in the country. I’ve had a chance to watch Elam work out and this kid is massive by anyone’s standards but what makes him special is that his high school coaches rave about his motor and intensity. When you combine that with his natural strength, he’s the “zero technique” that every 3-4 defensive coordinator has been dreaming of. - Barton Simmons
David Sharpe, OT, Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence
247Sports Rank: 11 | 247Composite Rank: 89
David Sharpe has a basketball player's feet.
247Sports analysis: Sharpe is a lot like Dorian Johnson (Pitt) from the 2013 cycle in that he's ultra-athletic and just needs to fill out his frame to reach his highest potential. He's the type of prospect that will develop tremendously during the coming two years and who ends up being a 3 or 4-year starter at the school of his choice after year one. – JC Shurburtt
Devante Downs, LB, Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) High (Cal commit)
247Sports Rank: 84 | 247Composite Rank: 239
247Sports analysis: Downs is a little difficult to project because most of his impressive film clips are on offense, but we've seen him in person in a camp setting and he has excellent lateral ability (when healthy- as he is currently out of the season) and projects best as an outside linebacker. He has natural strength and quickness and in time can really be an excellent player at the college level once he develops. - JC Shurburtt
DeAndre Thompkins, WR, Swansboro (Ga.) High (Penn State commit)
ESPN Rank: 55 | 247Composite Rank: 209
DeAndre Thompkins has elite speed.
ESPN analysis: There are some young receivers on the roster, but landing Thompkins was a big deal. He’s a playmaker and a fluid receiver that will help that offense once Robinson is gone. He isn’t talked about much, but he was an excellent pickup for the Nittany Lions. – Tom VanHaaren
Javon Harrison, ATH, Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen (Virginia Tech commit)
ESPN Rank: 90 | 247Composite Rank: 196
ESPN analysis: When you consider Harrison's size, you really gain an appreciation for his agility, speed and overall movement skills. Has great height and good bulk with very good playing strength and competitive speed. He possesses explosive reactions and quickness, especially for a tall, young athlete. Plays as a safety/corner hybrid and wide receiver, where he has more experience and a natural feel for the offensive side of the ball. Tough, hard-nosed competitor on both sides of the ball.
Jesse Jackson, WR, Petal (Miss.) High
ESPN Rank: 93 | 247Composite Rank: 354
ESPN analysis: He is a big kid who can run. Physically imposing with speed, Jackson brings value both as an outside threat and inside mismatch. Given his size, Jackson displays great feet and quality acceleration. His is a vertical threat due to his size-speed ratio and is also capable of taking an underneath catch the distance. He is a competitive, tough receiver with solid open-field running skills to boot.
More Top100 high-ranking outliers (Rank/247Composite): WR Trey Quinn (37/94); WR Johnnie Dixon (42/114); CB Chris Lammons (85/204); DE Denzel Ware (89/174); TE Jeb Blazevich (94/168); LB Shaun Hamilton (98/200)
Kentavius Street competed at The Opening back in July.
Kentavius Street, DE, Greenville (N.C.) J.H. Rose
Rivals Rank: 16 | 247Composite Rank: 64
Rivals analysis: His ascension reminds me a lot of Johnathan Bullard from a few years ago, maybe a little like Carl Lawson, because he is built like both of those guys. He is about 6-foot-2, 256 pounds. He had a 36-inch vertical leap at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Combine, ran a 4.8 40, a 4.4 shuttle. This kid is an athletic freak and when you look at him on film, he is very raw technique-wise, he still needs to use his arms a little bit more, needs to get off the edge a little bit better. But he can run things down, he is an absolute animal when it comes to pursuit, especially backside pursuit. He is a kid who I really think in a couple of years is going to be playing his best football. – Mike Farrell
Jackson Barton, OT, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton
Rivals Rank: 68 | 247Composite Rank: 236
Rivals analysis: Arguably the best-looking prospect at the U.S. Army National Combine, Barton is a nimble, big-bodied prospects who possesses all the tools to play high-BCS ball.
Connor Humphreys, DE, Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic
When healthy, Jalen Brown is as good as any receiver out west.
Rivals Rank: 81 | 247Composite Rank: 254
Rivals analysis: When looking at defensive end Connor Humphreys, the first thing that jumps off the page about him is his speed...But the Pacific Northwest recruit is not just all speed, no power. He uses his hands violently to gain position, spins well and even beat one of the better offensive guards at the event lining up inside.
Jalen Brown, WR, Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe
Scout Rank: 43 | 247Composite Rank: 135
Scout analysis: Brown is arguably the most polished WR in the West. He’s silky smooth in everything he does and the game looks easy for him. He has good size and uses his it well to create separation from smaller corners. He has great hands and catches everything away from his body. He’s quicker than he looks off the line, is a very smooth, polished route runner and his body control and ability to make the acrobatic catch in traffic is another big plus- Greg Biggins
Sam Mustipher, OG, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel (Notre Dame commit)
Scout Rank: 72 | 247Composite Rank: 205
Scout analysis: Mustipher plays tackle in high school but will move to either guard or center. He is a very smart kid who brings the intelligence to the field.. He picks up concepts quickly and makes adjustments easily. He has very good balance and is technically sound, and he finishes blocks. He needs to add some strength and weight to survive in the middle of the line of scrimmage. -- Brian Dohn
Sam Hubbard, ATH, Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller (Ohio State commit)
Scout Rank: 82 | 247Composite Rank: 229
Scout analysis: Rare athlete who played free safety as a junior at 6'6, 220. Will transition to linebacker in college and has the frame and penchant for contact to do so. Big hitter who is aggressive and has good closing speed. Plays under control though and does a good job of breaking down, staying disciplined and making sure tackles. Shows good smarts and ability to find the football. Biggest thing will be getting used to taking on blockers as a LB. – Allen Trieu
More Top100 high-ranking outliers (Rank/247Composite): OG Braden Smith (13/50); WR Parris Campbell (60/171); TE Dalton Schultz (64/104); WR Saeed Blacknall (77/115); RB Christian McCaffrey (83/188); RB Nathan Starks (98/150); DB John Bonney (99/194)